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Archive for the ‘World War II’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: RHYE-Tiny Desk Concert #727 (April 9, 2018).

Rhye is one of those bands that the guys on All Songs Considered just love.  But I find that his songs are completely insubstantial from his delicate falsetto to the restrained music.  It just puts me to sleep.

As such:

It seemed only fitting that when Rhye performed the band’s Tiny Desk Concert that it be at night, illuminated by flickering light. The music Mike Milosh sings and writes conjures the evening and a swaying, romantic vibe.

It was five years ago nearly to the day that we filmed Rhye by candlelight in New York City as the band toured for its enigmatic album Woman. Mike Milosh requested that Rhye’s members be filmed “only in silhouette, with the lights dimmed low” at Le Poisson Rouge show.

This time around the hundred or so flickering lights set the tone for the sextet of strings, keyboard, guitar, bass and drums to perform music from 2018’s Blood. The sound is warm and velvety, all the instruments gently pulsing, as Mike Milosh softly sings with that high-pitched yearn.

Tiny Desk Concerts are often awkward by nature — bands playing in the middle of an office in the daytime for musicians used to playing in the evening, with stage lighting. But there was a special transformation that took place at this Tiny Desk the moment the music kicked in. I’m a sucker for a vibe in music — that feeling when a sound completely shifts the mood of a room. This vibe was more like a house show than an office, which put me in a pensive, pleasant place. Sit back and enjoy.

“Please” is just so soft that it seems to float away.  The only cool parts are the guitar and bass lines.

“Taste” I like the instrumentation of this song, especially the violin and bowed upright cello.  And when the guitar solo comes out its like the loudest thing you’ve ever heard (in comparison). But when you think the song is over it’s still got about 5 more minutes of blandness to go.

“Song For You” is seven minutes of slow moodiness.  I like the trombone solo.  And the end is very pretty.   In fact, most of the songs are pretty if they were either shorter or if those songs were actually just the ending of a song.  Otherwise it’s all kind of samey.

[READ: January 5, 2018] Protect Yourself

This short book looks at the brief history of venereal disease posters that were created during WWII.  It was edited by Ryan Mungia with an essay by Jim Heimann.

The essay has the great title “VD posters: propaganda to the penis” is short.  Mostly this is just a collection of posters.

The premise is that commanders have had to fight venereal disease and the enemy simultaneously.  During WWI, 18,000 American military personnel were incapacitated with sexually transmitted diseases each day!  By WWII it was reduced to about 600 per day.

Protection certainly helped and graphic posters were there to spread the word. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Massey Hall, Toronto, ON (March 30 2007).

This was the very last Rheostatics show ever.   Well, for eight years.  But it was supposed to be the very last one.  They had been a band for nigh on 20 years and they needed to call it quits.  So they managed to get a final gig at Massey Hall which sold out pretty quickly.

And we’re lucky enough to have a recording (or several) of it.

The show opened with a tribute song by Dave Bookman/Steve Stanley.  Throughout the song there is consistently off rhyming–the word Rheostatic does not actually rhyme with things like attack it.  I also absolutely don’t get the line about thinking The Bends is better than OK Computer (which it isn’t, but what does that have to do with anything).

So after their folk song, the band comes out.  Martin’s voice hasn’t been fixed yet (that is such a bummer–what a disappointment for him and the show that his voice couldn’t soar–although his guitar sure can).

26 Songs were played (27 including Alomar)
From the poll that was taken here are the top 26 songs as voted.   Those in bold were played (17 of the 26 played were in the top 26 voted):
1. Saskatchewan (51) 
2. California Dreamline (50) 
3. Northern Wish (48) 
4. Dope Fiends and Boozehounds (48) 
5. Self-Serve Gas Station (47) 
6. A Mid Winter Night’s Dream (46)
7. Record Body Count (45) 
8. Horses (39) 
9. P.I.N. (37) 
10. King of the Past (36) 
11. Aliens (31) 
12. Shaved Head (29) 
13. Claire (27)
14. Satan Is the Whistler (27)
15. Legal Age Life at Variety Store (25) 
16. Four Little Songs (23)
17. In This Town (21)
18. Christopher (21) 
19. Jesus Was Once a Teenager Too (20)
20. Take Me In Your Hand (19)
21. Junction Foil Ball (18)
22. Feed Yourself (18) 
23. Bad Time To Be Poor (17)
24. Queer (17) [surprised they didn’t play this]
25. Making Progress (17)
26. Introducing Happiness (16) [surprised they didn’t play this]

I want to interject that I am shocked that Stolen Car, Michael Jackson, RDA and Bad Time to Be Poor weren’t in the Top 25. Songs that weren’t voted on but were played were:

Me & Stupid; Mumbletypeg; It; Easy To Be With You; My First Rock Show; We Went West; When Winter Comes; Stolen Car; RDA

They open with “Saskatchewan.” Martin sound rough but is pretty game to sing what he can.  “Me and Stupid” absolutely rocks.

They don’t talk much (yet) although Tim says that “Bad Time to Be Poor” is from the dark days of Ontario about ten years ago.  He also says that they were going to put an intermission in between two sets but we wanted to play as much as possible so we nixed it.

Martin confesses, “I’ve got a little bit of a bug so I don’t have the high stuff in my voice.  Doctors can’t fix it.  So sing along with it, especially the falsetto.”  They start “P.I.N.” and there’s a terrible guitar moment where someone is way off but it’s quickly fixed.”

Dave introduces “Mumbletypeg,” I’d like to send this out to my parents.”  Martin: “Me too.”  Tim: “Me three.”  Once again, the opening guitar or bass if way off but again fixed quickly.

“It” is kind of a surprise.  It sounds good as does “Christopher,” which Martin says was written for his friend Chris Hamilton.

When they play “King of the Past” Dave tells Martin to “do an extra long one” for the solo.

They call up Don Kerr and Dave Clark (our old friends) to the stage for “Northern Wish.”  Dave Clark on drums (and maybe percussion) and Don Kerr on a prominent and excellent cello.  Martin sounds pretty good on this song and the whole thing si really lovely. So lovely that Dave has them do the end section one extra time.  Thanks to “Clarkie and Kerr.”

Clark mentions Dave’s dad who signed the form when they were 15 to allow us to play in bars–I think there was a two-four in it for him (which we couldn’t buy).  We should thank Dave Clark’s mom Maude because they played at her house every day.  We were really loud and uh…bad.  During mellow time.  “My mom certainly knew it was mellow time for some of us.”

Ford Pier gets introduced for “Easy to Be with You,” which sounds great.  “You aren’t leaving are you, Ford?  Last time we were on stage together, some D.O.A. broke out.”

Dave sings “My First Rock Show” and The Imponderables act out the story of Dave getting rescued by Joe Jackson (I can’t believe there is no video for that!).  Tim Vesley was on drums.  Dave jokes, it was like a dream and you were there and you were there.   When Dave gets to the “Massey Hall” line, he repeats it over and over, letting the fact that they are there really sink in.

Timmy’s gonna tell a story about us touring back and forth across this country.  Tim sings a wonderful “We Went West” with some great guitar accompaniment.  Tim says there’s lot of great places we’ve played.  This place isn’t bad.

Dave: “Hats off to everyone who came from out of town.  Thanks very much.”

Ford gets to be profound  Massey Hall– hallowed cathedral.  The birthplace of music. Where the first note was sounded out.  The dawn of creation….  I grew up in Edmonton.  This place is okay. Now, if  we were playing at the Jubilee Auditorium….

Then Dave talks about some of the history of Massey Hall

Dave: Massey Hall, a long time ago, soldiers sat in these seats and waited to be shipped out to WWI.  Hitler’s cousin came her and warned people about the Nazis.  Charlie Parker played here and Bon Scott.

Tim: We played the Walker Theater in Winnipeg opening for Barenaked Ladies and our van broke in Brandon.  The taxi cost $220 and we made it just in time to get to the side of the stage.  We’d never placed a place that big (not as nice as this though).

Dave: So general recap: it’s going okay?

Martin makes a joke about Dave “writing books about how I smell.”  Dave: People love that shit.

Martin says that Ford is gonna help me with this tune.  It wasn’t intentional that the intro should sound anything like Bob & Doug McKenzie’s Great White North call (it does and doesn’t).  Martin tries it but can’t hit the notes.  The audience does it for him.  Martin: I’ve never done rock stage shit before.  Dave: last change, Martin, go for it.  Martin: I might as well enjoy it.  Ford is going to sing it because this is what it sounds like when i do it (bad).  Martin has some guitar fun in the middle of the song

“Feed Yourself” is suitably intense–Dave really gets into that middle section: “look inside his head!”

Then some humor:

Dave:  I plan to take Rheostatics Revisited on the road–with a bunch of younger guys.
Tim: I got Rheostatics We Hardly Knew Ye on the casino circuit.
Mike: I’ll be work shopping some young boy bands.
Martin: I’m taking up pet massage (Mike: receiving or giving) Martin laughs: giving, I train pets to massage people.
Dave: We’ve been playing with Ford for 2 years now.  I think Ford’s been studying us very deeply learning all of four secrets.
Ford: Yes, in 20 years I’m going break up.

There’s a really pretty “Making Progress” with some lovely accompaniment.  It’s followed by a terrific moody “Shaved Head,” but it sucks when he can’t hit the “it’s such a happy thing to cry.”

Dave: “we’re entering the shank part of the evening as Levon Helm used to say–never knew what it meant, but it seems appropriate.”
Martin: “I’ve carefully maintained not getting to know hoe to play our own songs for about 20 years it’s a delicate process: you want to know it enough but not too much.”

They talk about Martin’s hat. Martin does not wear a hat to cover male pattern baldness.   Martin: my hat is my good luck charm.  I keep fiddling with it so I try not to think about things.   Dave: “If you’re thinking about your hat you’re not thinking about bad stuff.”

martin says that they planned to name their third album Rheostatics Cut Their heads Off and Go Swimming.  They made a pact that when we play for the last time, I would cut off Tim’s hand and he would cut off mine.  But how does the last guy do the last hand?

Someone shouts “50 bucks for your hand.”  Dave: “How much if he autographs it? … oh wait.”

So Dave, you wrote this frankenmonster [When Winter Comes] so talk about it.  I’m looking forward to playing it personally and Dave’s going to explain it to you.  Dave doesn;t explain it but he says the first part was written in  the interior of British Columbia.  The middle was written at King and Parliament intersection.  The final part was written at the Isaac Hostel in Dublin Ireland coz I missed my girlfriend.  Tim: That’s where we broke up the first time.

As they start the song, Martin says, “this is the fake ending of the show, lets rock.”

Evidently there was snow falling during the song as one person wrote: “Also, the fake snow falling in ‘When Winter Comes‘ was gorgeous and will be imprinted in my brain forever.”

They come back for the encore.  Tim says, “This song is in the key of D, it’s one of our favorites.  (Dave: can we get those police back?).  Martin: “I’ll dedicate this song [“Self Serve Gas Station”] to my parents.  This song isn’t all that true.  And to my sister who is seeing us for the first time tonight.  (Save: so it’s her fault).

Martin sings his heart out on “California Dreamline” but just can’t get the notes.

They invite Wolf Island’s Chris Brown to the stage.  We’re going to dedicate this song to Claire who is siting in the balcony.  She’s 7 years old.  “Claire” runs to almost 9 minutes with some great solos from all parties, including a great keyboard solo from I assume Chris Brown.

They play a ripping, intense version of “Horses.”  Despite acknowledging the kids in the audience, Dave doesn’t hold back.  Send this out to Stephen Harper and his minority government behaving like a majority government:

 theft and lies and deceit and pain and crime and hate and intolerance and cheating.  And he hasn’t even done anything yet.  But were gonna be ready and strong.  We’re gonna be mighty, small, and fierce.  Teeth bared, eyes open fists clenched, feet rooted to the ground.  This is our ground.  These are our roots

“Stolen Car” ends with Martin repeating the first line and Dave asking and then what happened?  So Martin speed reads the plot of the song to a blur as it segues into “RDA” with a chanted chorus of Super Furry Animals, “They don’t give a fuck about anybody else.”  As they near the end, Dave asks, “Are you ready Timmy?  Are you ready Marty?  Are you ready Fordy?  Are your ready Michael?” before they conclude… in America!

The final song of the encore is “Dope Fiends and Boozehounds.”  We’d like to invite the ensemble up for this next number.  Don and Dave and Chris…  let’s all do it together.  The drummers get a special drum solo with some fun keys from Ford.  The percussion solo segues seamlessly into “Alomar” before returning to “Dope Fiends.”  This song featured Chris Brown on keys and Dave Clark and Don Kerr on hand drums.

They leave but it’s not over yet.  They come out for a final encore, where they apparently sit down on the edge of the stage and joke with each other “how come you’re not famous?”  “How much money do you have?”  They plays some acoustic guitars (can you hear us alright?).

Dave: Ford, what can we do to get the top balcony singing?
Ford: This is Dave Clark’s thing, he’ll have good advice.
Clark directs the audience.  Top balcony, this half goes “oom” the other half goes “oom oom.  Middle balcony, hum through the nose–that’s not loud enough so hum out loud.  The bottom group, half goes ahhh and the other half goes whoooo.  They do a pretty decent participation throughout the whole of “Legal Age Life.”

And then there’s one last song.  Dave gets a little choked up.

I don’t get emotional about this until I start talking to people who are into the band.  People coming with old friends who grew up singing Rheos’ songs; people forming bands, lost in the wilderness and singing Uncle Henry to themselves….

And then they play a sweet acoustic version of “Record Body Count,” a sweet send off to Martin, for sure.  And as one person commenting on the show wrote:

Martin’s expression at the end of ‘Record Body Count‘ when he realized that there was a human pyramid behind him was priceless.

There is a clip of the human pyramid online, and it’s really pretty impressive.

The final word goes to Darrin Cappe, who runs the Rheostatics Live site

This show was the biggest they have played on their own to date, and the fans have flown from all over North America, from Florida to San Diego and from Halifax to Victoria to see them. What a pleasure and a treasure it was to have been there. I truly feel that those lucky enough to have been there were witness to a significant piece of Canadian Music History. One of those events where years from now when people talk about it you can say in the words of Dave Bidini “Oh Yeah, I Was There!” ” Darrin Cappe, Toronto ON

Shortly after the concert CBC Radio aired an edited one-hour version of the show.  The sound is excellent.  They play havoc with the set list, having it rather our of order, and having it end with the main body of the show.  But it’s a nice, clean-sounding, digestible one hour highlight reel.

01. Introduction   1:27
02. Interview with Andy Craig   1:44
03. Saskatchewan   8:04
04. Me and Stupid   4:02
05. DJ   0:11
06. Bad Time To Be Poor   4:17
07. King Of The Past   6:27
08. Northern Wish   6:34
09. We Went West   5:24
10. banter   1:09
11. Making Progress   5:18
12. Claire   7:09
13. DJ   0:22
14. When Winter Comes   10:05
15. Outro   0:49

There’s a slideshow of pictures at the bottom of this post.  And Pete Nema has some photos from the show online.   There’s also a couple of non soundboard recordings.  The one from Desmond Howl is especially interesting because you can hear a lot more of the crowd reactions–they were really into the show (which doesn’t quite come across in the soundboard version).

It was great run from a great band.  I was pretty psyched to be able to see them when they reunited seven years later.  My bucket list now includes seeing them play a proper show–two hours plus, with Martin’s voice in great form.  We’ll see what the summer allows!

[READ: January 13, 2018] “Munich, 1938”

I saw this longish story and the title and thought I would not like it at all.  I was pleasant surprised at how engrossed I became in this story.

It started out as I feared with the British Prime Minister and his delegation heading to a conference with Hitler and Mussolini.  We are focused on Hugh Legat, Chamberlain’s private secretary (but apparently not a very high ranking one).  He was asked to stay at the hotel to get an office running for the Prime Minister when he returned. We learn that Legat has an ulterior motive for being in Munich, although I’m not entirely certain that this excerpt reveals what that is.  It might, but I’m not sure.

The story is a bit bogged in details, but that’s as befits a novel, which this is and excerpt from.  So the early part is a little tough going with so many characters–most of whom we will not meet in this excerpt.

Then we meet Paul Hartmann. Hartmann is also at the conference.  We know even less about him except that he has a gun in one pocket and a letter in the other.  He has a message for the British delegation, but there is no way he can get it to them without being spotted.

The conference ends for lunch.  The delegates do not look pleased.  This made Hartmann happy that maybe the conference would fail. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: AHI-Tiny Desk Concert #693 (January 16, 2018).

AHI is apparently, inexplicably pronounced “eye.”  He is an Ontario-based singer.  There’s nothing strikingly original about his sound, but his songs are pretty and thoughtful and his voice has a pleasing rough edge.

Bob says,

AHI’s gruff but sweet voice and openly honest words were my gateway to this young Ontario-based singer. AHI says he sings Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come,” at the end of every set with a sense of hope. It was powerfully moving, without a note that felt clichéd or overly nostalgic. At that moment, I knew he needed to play a Tiny Desk Concert.

With a tasteful band comprised of Frank Carter Rische on electric guitar, Robbie Crowell on bass guitar and Shawn Killaly (a man of a million faces) on drums, AHI put his heart into three songs in just about 11 minutes, all from his debut album We Made It Through The Wreckage, which came out a year ago this week.

“Alive Again” builds slowly, but by the time the chorus comes around and he adds some whoops, the song really moves. I’m quite intrigued at the constant soloing from guitarist Frank Carter Rische.  It’s virtually nonstop and really seems to propel the song along.  It’s a catchy and fun song the way each round seems to make the song bigger and bigger.

About “Closer (From a Distance)” he says, we all have relationships.  Some are good; some are bad and some are just awful.  You may care about someone with your whole heart only to realize that you care about that person more than they care about themselves.  No matter how strong you are your strengths may not be as strong as their weaknesses.  Sometimes the only way to save the relationship is to walk away–“maybe we’ll be closer from a distance.”   This is a really heartbreaking song.  The lyrics are clearly very personal and quite powerful.  And the soloing throughout the song is really quiet and beautiful.

“Ol’ Sweet Day” is bouncy and catchy with a propulsive acoustic guitar and lovely licks on the lead acoustic guitar.  The drums are fun on this song as Killaly plays the wall and uses his elbow to change the sound of the drum at the end of the song.

The burning question that is never addressed is way he is wearing a helmet –motorcycle? horse riding?  It stays on the whole time.  At one point he even seems to “tip” his hat.  How peculiar.

[READ: December 8, 2017] Glorious and or Free

The Beaverton is a satirical news source based in Canada.  It began as a website in 2010 and then added a TV Show in 2016 (now in its second season).  To celebrate 2017, the creators made this book.

They have divided the history of Canada into 13 sections.  As with many satirical history books, you can learn a lot about a country or a time from the kinds of jokes made.  Obviously the joke of each article is fake, but they are all based in something.  Historical figures are accurate and their stereotypes and broadsides certainly give a picture of the person.

Some of the humor is dependent upon knowing at least a little about the topic, but some of the other articles are just broadly funny whether you know anything about it or not.

When we made this book our goal was to transport readers back to grade school to remember what they were taught n Canadian history class.  And so what if your teacher was hungover most of the time?

~30,000 Years of History in About Four Page (3,200,000,000 BCE – 1496)

“What the hell is that?”  –God after forgetting he made beavers. (more…)

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[LISTENED TO: August 2017] Adventures with Waffles

I saw this book in the library and the title sounded interesting. The blurb on the back when enticing as well, so I grabbed it for our family road trip.

I had no idea that the book was a translation of a Norwegian story (Vafflehjarte) nor that it had already been translated into English as Waffle Hearts (a much more accurate, and frankly much more satisfying title).  I gather from a little research that Waffle Hearts is a British translation and Adventures with Waffles is an American one (although they both have the same translator, Guy Puzey).

The story is about Trille and Lena, two kids who live next door to each other in the village of Mathildawick Cove in Norway.  Their village is small and there are only 9 kids in their grade.  Lena is the only girl. The bully Kai-Tommy wishes she weren’t in their class.  But Trille feels that Lena is his best friend (he hopes it is reciprocated, but is unsure).  She is wild, she is spontaneous, she is dangerous.  And she is a lot of fun. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: JOSEPH-Live at the Newport Folk Festival (July 29, 2017).

 Every year, NPR goes to the Newport Folk Festival so we don’t have to.  A little while afterwards, they post some streams of the shows (you used to be able to download them, but now it’s just a stream).  Here’s a link to the Joseph set; stream it while it’s still active.

Joseph is a band of three sisters and their sound is a little like Indigo Girls–if there were three of them.

When Natalie, Meegan and Allison Closner shout together to the heavens, accompanied only by Natalie’s acoustic guitar, it’s a joyful noise that intrinsically celebrates their bond.

So yes, Joseph is all about harmonies.  They play six songs from their recent album I’m Okay, No You’re Not which is a pretty great release (with a few songs that go a little too commercial).  For the most part, it is just one guitar and three voices.

Their first song “Stay Awake” starts off quietly with one of the sisters (Natalie, I assume) singing and plucking a spare melody on the guitar.  And then about a minute and fifteen second in, all three sisters sing and suddenly the song is magical.

 “Canyon” has a number of amazing moments, but especially when they sing along with one of the sisters taking lead and the other two doing some great harmonies.  When the lead sings “I wanna feel it,” all three singers soar to the rafters in a gorgeous harmony (around 7:25 of this set).

They get applause for “S.O.S.” before playing it.  This is their poppiest song and the one that verges closest to a sound I don’t like (especially for them).  But it’s hard to deny it when they sound so good live.

For “Planets” they ask if anybody wants to sing and they give the audience a mildly complicated melody to sing.  I can’t really tell if the audience is any good at it, but the sisters seem to like it.  And “I Don’t Mind” has a terrific melody even without the harmonies, but when they come in it’s even better.

They describe “Sweet Dreams” as like a lullaby that they used to say to their mom ” Sweet dreams, I love you, good night.”  But this song is anything but a lullaby.  The melody is sophisticated and their voices are powerful.  It’s quite something,.

They have time for two more.  We’ll sing one from our old record and…maybe our single.  That single, “White Flag” finds a stellar balance of pop and folk.  It hits just the right edges of pop to make the song insanely catchy but with an almost aggressive folksiness that is undeniable.  And live it’s almost breathtaking.

Their voices are just amazing.

[READ: June 20, 2017] “I Have Fallen in Love with American Names”

Earlier this month I posted a piece from Roth about names.  I assume that this excerpt comes from the same source.

Roth’s parents were born in New Jersey at the start of the twentieth century.  They were at home in America even though “they had no delusions and knew themselves to be socially stigmatized and regarded as repellent alien outsiders.”  And that is the culture that Philip grew up in.

Butt the writers who shaped his sense of country were born in America some thirty to sixty years before him.  They were mostly small town Midwesterners and Southerners.  None were Jews.

What shaped those writers was not mass immigration from the Old Country and the threat of anti-Semetic violence, but the overtaking of farms and villages  values by business culture.

He says what attracted him to writers like Theodore Dreiser, Sherwood Anderson, Ring Lardner, Sinclair Lewis, Thomas Wolfe and Erskine Caldwell was his own ignorance of everything North South and West of Newark, New Jersey.  And the way that America from 1941 to 1945 was unified: (more…)

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 SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Clinton’s Tavern Toronto ON (October 20, 1990).

From the Rheostatics Live website:

Very good sounding show though a bit hot in places. I had to stitch it together from 2 tapes and a messed up order but I think I got it right. Interesting that back in 1990, before even Melville was recorded, they were playing such a large selection of songs from Whale Music and even Introducing Happiness plus a bunch of songs that didn’t end up on any album such as Fluffy, Seems Like, Woodstuck, Memorial Day etc. One of the only times they played all three Joey related songs in succession. Louis Melville guests as well as Jim Hughes of 13 Engines. I don’t believe this is the full show as they talk about to going into Edmund Fitzgerald but the tape ends.

I had planned to post about these Rheostatics live shows in order, but I’d somehow missed this one.  Interestingly though, they play a bunch of songs that they would not record for several years–some of them are early incarnations of songs, too.

As the Daves introduce the band, the phrase one fell swoop comes up.  And Bidini says that they are One Fell Swoop.  Then Clark says we are One Swell Poop.   Bidini continues: The Holmgren Brotehrs, Dave and Dave.  That’s Frosty Flake on bass and Ken “The Rat” Linseman on the rat pedal.  I gather that Bidini has a mustache (there’s a Freddy Mercury joke later in the show), but he says “The mods called me a rich kid on the street because of his mustache.  They called me dude too.  Which isn’t modish or contemporary.

After some noise and static Dave says the first song was supposed to start with a technological flourish of some kind.  It’s “Jesus Was Once a Teenager Too” [Introducing Happiness] and it is sung by Dave and Dave (!)  It sounds so strange and there’s no middle section at all.  Midway through they call out Lewis Melville from Guelph Ontario to play the guitar.

They play they crazy noisy staccato intro to “When Winter Comes” [Melville] and the song rocks out.  At the end Bidini says it is three songs rolled into one: Big Bear’s Birthday, When Winter Comes and Victoria.  They play “Northern Wish” [Melville] and “Woodstuck.”  Dave introduces “Seems Like” as written about a guy Martin met in Dublin who told the band they had no vision.  It includes the line:  “a sentimental flower child bawls me out for lacking vision…fuck you, dude.”

Then they introduce a song “about a great hockey player gone bad its called “Beer” [Would eventually be “Beerbash” on Whale Music].

Bidini says they are really the tragedy corner here–that was depressing so is this one (“Soul Glue”) [Whale Music] Tim says, “I thought you meant we were sucking.”  There’s no Benjamin Hayward in the lyrics.  And during the part about the police, someone chants “911 is a joke.”

Clark gives a bizarro story as an introduction to “Ditch Pigs”: he and Martin got into fisticuffs punch up in the Rockies.  They stole policeman’s peanut butter and smeared it on each other and then fell into a ditch.  None of that is true, someone points out.

Marty’s got a case of the bombastic flu–the four week flu.  And so they play “Martin’s First Day of School” [never released] although they claim it is from their forthcoming album Rheostatics Cut Their Head Off and Go Swimming or form their triple CD retrospective Smelling a Dog on a Sunny Day.

They play “Memorial Day” which is also kind of a downer [never recorded].  And then a fun introduction to “Who” [Whale Music]:

Just back from Neil Young’s ranch in Topanga Canyon Mr Jim Hughes of 13 Engines.   Then comes “Chanson les Ruelles” [Melville], “Sickening Song” [Whale Music] with lots of accordion that segues into “What’s Going On” [also Whale Music] with a nice solo at the end by Martin.

This leads into “Fluffy,” the only time it’s available live here.  Martin hits some absurd high notes–I wonder if they ever intended to record it.  Dave introduces a song called “Dealin at the 7-11” which would of course be Legal Age Life at Variety Store [Whale].  Then comes two songs from Melville: “Christopher” and “Horses.”  “Horses” starts acoustic ad kind of slow, but it gets really loud with some interesting guitar solo sounds and a few changed lines.

Clark says after a minute (my-noot) break they will be back momentarily.

When they come back Dave Bidini congratulates the Cincinnati Reds for winning the world series “Big Bad Jose Canceco arriving there on the hook, you got what you deserve, you big asshole.”  Yipes.  Clark diffuses this but apologizing to all hockey fans for the baseball season hanging on so long.  Long live hockey!  Death to the fat mans’ sport.  They Clark explains that they have challenged the Leafs to a fun game against their Rock and Roll Hacker Jets: Dave Tim and Dave on the front line and Rick “whomp um” Wamsley in goal.

Someone shouts that Judy quit her job.  They seem excited and then when martin sings “Record Body Count” he sings–“Judy pulled herself to her feet.”  Then they play “Joey 2” and “Joey 3.”  It’s followed by great versions of Saskatchewan” & “Dope Fiends.”

There’s a fun green sprouts theme (with someone singing loudly and out of key) and then a surprising “Rain Rain Rain” [Whale] described as a quiet version with Clark cracking up at the end for unknown reasons.  There’ s cool version of “Aliens” [Melville].   And then one of the last versions of “Good on the Uptake.”  It’s really long with some hearty jamming.

We find out that it is almost 1AM, and then there’s a nice version of “Lyin’s Wrong” [Melville].  Dave gasps and says “Martin transformed into a gay librarian right before my eyes.”  It’s clear that they are planning to play more songs.  Indeed it seems like they have many more songs to go.  Bidini says he’d love to play Edmund Fitzgerald tonight and then the tape cuts off.

For such an old tape, the sound quality is quite good and the song selection is really fascinating since they had barely released any of the songs.

[READ: August 17, 2016] “A Sigh and a Salute”

This is the second essay about an artist that Spiegelman had written for Harper’s in 2016.  I wonder if it will become a regular thing?

This essay is about Si Lewen, an artist of whom I’ve never heard.  It is actually from the introduction to Parade: An Artist’s Odyssey.

Spiegelman says he has one of Si Lewen’s “Ghosts” hanging in his studio.  Lewen began the series of Ghosts in 2008 and has made over 200.

Spiegelman gives Lewen’s complex history: Born in Poland in 1918, his family moved to Berlin as World War I ended.  They were trying to escape Polish antisemitism and found the German version. When Hitler became Chancellor, Si Lewen aged 14, decided to leave Germany.  He and his brother left the family behind and went to Paris.  There was some luck on his side.  Si’s uncle in America had organized a fund-raiser for Admiral Byrd’s expedition to the South Pole.  Byrd’s brother, a Senator, arranged for Si’s entire family to get Visas in America in 1935.  But even America wasn’t great for Si.  In 1936, while sitting in Central Park after visiting the Met, a policeman upon hearing his accent grabbed him, rowed him out to the island in the center of the lake, bludgeoned and robbed him.  What the holy fuck? (more…)

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1997SOUNDTRACK:LOS HACHEROS-Tiny Desk Concert #546 (July 5, 2016).

hacherosLos Hacheros play “Afro-Caribbean music that provides the source material for modern salsa and all of its permutations.”

This music swings and bounces and with such simple instrumentation: an upright bass and a guitar.  With the main melodies constructed by the trombone and vocal (the trombonist doubles on violin).  But the rest of the band is there for percussion–cowbells, shakers and the conga.

The band plays three songs all sung in Spanish.  It’s fun to watch them get into the groove and begin to sway in unison to the music.

“Baila Con Los Hacheros” features a violin solo that is pretty intense “Papote’s Guajira” features an acoustic guitar solo that is complex and fun to watch. It also has a lengthy flute solo (the violinist also plays the flute!). “Bambulaye” features NPR’s own Felix Contreras on congas–he gets a solo–apparently he has been playing in bands for years.  What a nice surprise.

[READ: November 3, 2016] The Complete Peanuts 1997-1998

This is the second to last book of collected strips from Schulz.  Rerun features quite prominently and Linus has faded somewhat.  Snoopy is no longer playing characters (except for the soldier..always soldiers) and Charlie is still pining for things he won’t get.

1997 opens with Charlie showing Linus his autographed Joe Shlabotnik baseball.  But Linus thinks it’s a forgery.  Cue a week of strips about an autograph forger (who tries to hire Charlie as his accomplice).  I love that Schulz went on strange little tangents like this, but I always feel like he doesn’t follow through with these funny ideas. The whole premise of this just ends never to be heard from again.

And then in a surprise to me, Snoopy starts acting like a Revolutionary War patriot standing guard at Valley Forge.  He seems to have given up on WWI and gone back in time to a far less dramatic role–he mostly just stands around in the cold.  Strips about that occur from time to tome with him talking to General Washington.  The last one is in December 1998 where he realizes he is only guarding snow. (more…)

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